KUALA LUMPUR: Back-up shuttler Tan Kian Meng was over the moon … at Liew Daren’s expense.
Yesterday, the 19-year-old Kian Meng scored the biggest upset of the day when he dumped second seed Daren 21-19, 13-21, 22-20 in a 63-minute Kuala Lumpur Open quarter-final match at the at Kuala Lumpur Badminton (KLBA) Stadium in Cheras.
Kian Meng, who was promoted from the Bukit Jalil Sports School (BJSS) to the national team under the charge of Rashid Sidek early this year, was leading 20-18 in the decider but held his nerves to romp home for the victory despite a late charge from Daren.
He will take on compatriot Chong Yee Han for a place in the final.
Daren lost his cool several times during the match but his anger was not directed at Kian Meng.
He was upset with the service judge who faulted his service several times, affecting his tempo.
Kian Meng, the 2011 100Plus National Junior Grand Prix Finals champion, said that he took advantage of Daren’s lack of concentration during the match.
“Daren was visibly upset because the service judge faulted him several times. I took advantage of the situation,” said Kian Meng. It is the first time that Kian Meng has beaten Daren in their three meetings and also the first time he has made it to the semi-finals of the Division One in a local tournament.
“This is really a big breakthrough for me. I only won the Division Two title last year and I have lost to Daren even during match practices. Today, I was able to throw out my best game.”
Kian Meng attributed his rapid progress to his promotion to the national team.
“I trained under Rashid and sparred with all the top players – Lee Chong Wei, Daren and Chong Wei Feng. My attacking game has improved and today, my netplay was also good. I am able to plan my movements on court well now,” he said.
A disappointed 26-year-old Daren however, was scathing in his attack of court officials, saying he hoped that the judging quality in local tournaments would be improved.
“I was service-faulted five times and there were two dubious line calls. I was even service-faulted at 19-19 in the opening game. They were all short services! This is my worst ever experience – I lost seven points,” said Daren.
In fact, one court official even stood by the service umpire to guard her moves during the match.
“I really do not understand. The quality of service judging and linesmen is really bad in local tournaments. It totally affected my game and I am just so upset with the whole thing.”
The other semi-final match today will be between top seed Chong Wei Feng and Misbun Ramdan Misbun.